Thursday, December 9, 2021

Australian softball team named for Tokyo Olympics after 13-year wait

If there was one team to take the postponed Tokyo Games in their stride it was Australia’s softballers – after all, what’s one more year when you’ve already waited 12 to be back on the Olympic Diamond?

Australian women's softballers, including Belinda White, front, celebrate qualifiing for the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: Supplied, Softball Australia.

The Aussie Spirit named their 15-woman squad on Thursday from their base in Ota City, Gunma prefecture, about 80 kilometres outside of Tokyo where they have been playing a series of matches against professional teams.

Our softball players were the first Aussie athletes to arrive in Japan, arriving a month ago, heading over early as they have barely played together since qualifying in 2019.

If this was not the only challenge, our softballers were the first international team a cautious Japanese public have welcomed in and their every step is watched closely by Japanese media.

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For now, the team can only travel from their hotel to the stadium.

At their hotel three floors have been allocated to the team for exclusive use, two for sleeping and the third floor for a mess room, gym, and lounge.

Experienced catcher Belinda White, Australia’s rock behind the home plate, said the reception from the locals had warmed the longer they had been in camp.

“There was some hesitation at first, we were the first international team coming in, and naturally they were concerned about us following Covid protocols,” the 32-year-old said.

“But they’ve seen us social distancing and wearing masks, and the feedback has been they now feel comfortable with us here.

If this was not the only challenge, our softballers were the first international team a cautious Japanese public have welcomed in and their every step is watched closely by Japanese media.

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For now, the team can only travel from their hotel to the stadium.

At their hotel three floors have been allocated to the team for exclusive use, two for sleeping and the third floor for a mess room, gym, and lounge.

Experienced catcher Belinda White, Australia’s rock behind the home plate, said the reception from the locals had warmed the longer they had been in camp.

“There was some hesitation at first, we were the first international team coming in, and naturally they were concerned about us following Covid protocols,” the 32-year-old said.

“But they’ve seen us social distancing and wearing masks, and the feedback has been they now feel comfortable with us here.

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